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Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 – Anxiety

What is anxiety?

Anxiety could be seen as an emotion or sensation.

It could be defined as fear, a feeling of unease, or a bodily reaction to stress or threat. It could be that the experience is never quite captured in words. You might feel worried and not really know why. You might feel scared and pinpoint it to something specific. Not knowing and knowing could both feel strange, even intolerable. Something that doesn’t feel comfortable to neither have inside nor to let out. It stays there somewhere, in tension, in vibration. Tingling in your throat or arms. A heartbeat skipping a few too many beats or going a bit too fast. It doesn’t feel like it will, ever, go away.

You’re trying to cope by yourself, but actually, it’s just getting worse. You’re trying to be OK, but actually, you don’t feel anything’s getting better. You’re giving up hope and the hopelessness only increases the anxiety. You’re worried about some unknowable, or knowable, thing in the past, present, or future. Something, perhaps, beyond your control. A cloud that grows bigger and over your head. Your heart is beating faster and you’re struggling to breathe. Your whole body might start feeling tense and heavy; your headaches getting worse. You’re restless and fatigued at the same time. You’re trying to scream, run, jump, do something, anything – but nothing. 

Sometimes the thought of talking about this knowable, unknowable, threat, feels too scary. Grounding yourself first with a 3-minute breathing space or the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise might just do the trick.

Can you close your eyes, feel the ground beneath your feet? Can you wiggle and count your fingers and toes, in-between each breath? Can you find something soft to squeeze? Sometimes moving it outward and onto paper, rather than inward and into your body, might feel better.

Writing your worries down on paper could, then, feel like just the needed ‘release’. Include the ‘AGHHHSS’ and the ‘UGHHHSS’ that you couldn’t get out through sound. You might want to keep it in a protected diary, somewhere to privately read through later, or write it on a note that then gets ripped up or otherwise destroyed. New realisations might sometimes pop up from writing. You might want to talk to someone about it at that point. You might, or might not, have someone in mind. Holding the tensions inside risks ‘fighting against’ the waves.

Sometimes someone who’s not too close might be just the thing you need. Someone who could be there alongside you; visually guide you into a more peaceful state. Can you imagine the birds chirping; the sun shining on your face; the fresh smell of newly cut grass? 

Every Monday to Friday MYPAS runs a Digital Drop-In Service. Between 3:30pm-5pm, you can chat to a MYPAS member of staff about anything that is worrying you or find out more information about sources of support. You do not have to have a referral for counselling, art therapy or other support services to access this. It is free for all parents, carers and young people across Midlothian and East Lothian.

For full information on this service, see our webpage here: https://www.mypas.co.uk/mypas-digital-drop-in/